How to (and not to) PR by Shannon Marketing Communications

Analysis of the good, bad and ugly in PR and marketing

New story on startup Votigo in Boulder

Posted on | March 9, 2014 | No Comments

My latest for BICO:

Built In Colorado would like to congratulate its March Startup of the Month: Votigo. When this SaaS company was founded in mid-2006, co-CEO and founder Jim Risner saw an opportunity to expand. A CU grad, he decided to return to Boulder, opening an office on 15th Street. The company has been a Facebook preferred developer since 2010, and was on the Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest growing companies in the U.S. in 2012 and 2013.

Read the rest:

New NoCo Medical & Wellness stories on physiatry and kids’ sports injuries

Posted on | March 8, 2014 | No Comments

Brad has new stories out in the March 2014 NoCo Medical & Wellness issue.

See pages 52 and 65 for stories on the medical specialty physiatry and varying the sports kids play to help avoid injury.

A new piece for InnovatioNews on Loveland’s Aleph Objects . . .

Posted on | January 30, 2014 | No Comments

. . . also posted today.

Jeff Moe, founder of Aleph Objects, in his company's 3D printer cluster room

Jeff Moe stands in the aisle of his company’s 3D printer cluster, the largest in the world

Jeff Moe’s enthusiasm is palpable.

It’s understandable that moving a growing company to a newly purchased 17,000-square-foot building on nine acres would leave most CEOs feeling a bit giddy. More noteworthy, perhaps, is that Aleph Objects is just three years old — started in Moe’s basement — and was in 2,700 square feet of commercial space before moving to their new location in October.

Read the rest here.

My first piece for posted today . . .

Posted on | January 30, 2014 | No Comments

. . . a profile piece on Boulder-based SparkFun.

SparkFun inventories its stock of 2300+ products

A SparkFun team member takes inventory

As a freshman in college, SparkFun founder and CEO Nathan Seidle set a goal: to hold a patent by the time he was 30. He founded his company in 2003, while still an undergraduate studying electrical engineering. He’s grown it to employ more than 150, generate just over $30 million in revenue annually and offer more than 2,300 products to help its customers build a prototype or create a project.

Read the rest here.

Pianist Gary Schmidt Plays Loveland’s Rialto Theater Friday, January 10, 2014

Posted on | January 7, 2014 | Comments Off

This Friday, local Lovelander and accomplished pianist Gary Schmidt returns to the Rialto for “Claire de Lune: An evening with the classics” at 7:30.

World-class talent, an intimate venue, accessible timeless masterpieces, right here in our lovely home town.

Lessons learned moving from Vonage to Ooma

Posted on | January 3, 2014 | No Comments

The transition from Vonage to Ooma seems to be complete. So far, so good.

Some things learned:
-It will take some time – several days, up to weeks – to port your number to a new service.
-My suspicion that Vonage is complacent on its technology and features is confirmed – Ooma offers some things that would be easy for Vonage to do but chooses not to.
-If you have a contract or agreement with Vonage (we did not) they will charge you a disconnect fee.
-If your number ports to the new service immediately after you have automatically pre-paid for the next month’s Vonage service, don’t expect any sort of refund. Do expect some weasel-ey double talk about a policy of not doing partial refunds, then, when you call them on that BS, some more double talk about how their system just plain won’t let them do that (see point, above, about their complacency re: technology).
-You can’t disconnect from Vonage via their website – you have to call – and their voice recognition automated system is not very good at recognizing voices (see tech point, above).
-You don’t get to take advantage of some Ooma advanced features unless you buy a handset from them – you can’t use them if you just connect your regular telephone to the service (which otherwise seems to work pretty well).
-One service I will miss with Vonage is free, automatic voice transcription of messages sent to you via text (which, given their voice recognition challenges, were sometimes funny, sometimes cryptic). I still get free emails of voice mail transcripts via Ooma, though.
-I also miss just entering the number, no 1- before a long-distance call with Vonage – have to do that with Ooma.
-Don’t pay full price for a new Ooma unit – they go on sale, and there are used and refurbished units available for significant discounts.
-You Ooma unit won’t flirt with you like the one in the TV commercial (and you can’t jump that crossover import onto a train).

Don’t get me wrong – we were happy Vonage customers for some time, and switched because the price and features with Ooma looks to be much better. And while the amount of the refund we should get is pretty small, it should not be an issue for them to do that. The simply choose not to, pocket that money, and make excuses about why it is that way. Disappointing that they would take that route.

When I posted this to Facebook, someone asked about my thoughts on Magic Jack. I replied:

I don’t know much, have not used it – my impression is that is is bare bones (cheap in a bad way) with not much support/customer service. I believe that <a friend> uses or has used them – I think I recall she got to the point where she moved away from them, but I’m not sure.

I think it works really well for some – depending on what you need it to do. Cheap and limited features, but better, in some situations, than the alternative/nothing. I think it has a lot to do with the quality of your inet connection – and Vonage and Ooma have dedicated teams to make sure quality is up to expectations. I don’t think MJ has that – you are sort of on your own if it does not work well.

That said, Vonage is a “razors and razorblades” service – modest hardware cost, loss-leader “oh boy!” initial rate that goes up to $25/mo. or so, with some add on fees for some services features.

Ooma is a bigger up-front hardware cost, then “free” but you have to cover the monthly taxes/fees – a few bucks in most places. Their premium service is $10/mo, but they make it pretty enticing to go that route. Lots of features, and they waive the $39 number port fee if you commit to a year of service.

On a related note, I have some gently used Vonage hardware for sale . . .


Westwind Getaways Now Taking Reservations for Santa Fe and Taos Guided Trip April 15-18, 2014

Posted on | January 2, 2014 | No Comments


Westwind Getaways Now Taking Reservations for

Santa Fe and Taos Guided Trip April 15-18, 2014

Active adults 50+ will enjoy a fun-filled trip to the “Land of Enchantment”

Loveland, Colorado – Westwind Getaways, LLC (, specializing in group trips for active adults, is now taking reservations for its guided trip to Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico, April 15-18, 2014. Those aged 50 and over with an interest in travel, history, architecture, art, nature, and photography are sure to enjoy this carefully planned adventure full of interesting activities and fun.

Westwind has handled all the planning and logistics for the trip, and has arranged for an experienced and knowledgeable guide to facilitate the group’s journey in the footsteps of Native American, Spanish, and Old West cultures in the heart of the oldest capital city in the U.S.

A balanced itinerary includes an interesting and varied schedule of activities, fine dining, and downtime for relaxing, shopping, and exploration. Highlights of the trip include:

  • The “miraculous” staircase and stained glass windows at the world-renowned Loretto Chapel.
  • The famous Taos Pueblo, one the oldest inhabitable places in the US. This 400-year-old site is the largest multi-story pueblo in the nation.
  • The charming old Spanish village of Santuario de Chimayo.
  • A guided Historical Walking Tour of Santa Fe’s attractions like the Santa Fe Plaza, The Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe’s Museum Hill area, and more.
  • The fascinating Anasazi Dwellings of Bandelier National Park, with its petroglyphs, dwellings carved into the rock cliffs, and ancient masonry walls set amongst the beautiful pinon forest, canyons and mesas.
  • Downtown tour of historic Taos art galleries, studios, and shops.

This exciting educational tour includes:

  • Four nights of lodging at a lovely downtown Santa Fe hotel, double occupancy or single supplement.
  • Hotel has parking if you arrive by car.
  • Three days of tours.
  • Transportation and driver on all driving portions of your stay.
  • Guides, some meals, and tips, as noted on the detailed itinerary.
  • Entrance fees to attractions.
  • Snacks and water on Taos Tour and Bandelier Tour.

Find full details at for details.

Optional activities and time to explore on your own can be filled with:

  • An evening “ghostwalkers” tour.
  • Shopping, art galleries and photography in downtown Santa Fe.
  • A variety of services at the hotel’s spa, including massages.
  • Soak or swim in the heated pool or whirlpool hot tub.

Tour does not include transportation to the Taos/Santa Fe area. Transfers from the Albuquerque International Airport to the hotel in Santa Fe are available for a fee. Contact Westwind Getaways for local shuttle contacts.

Limited space available, with an eight-guest minimum and a maximum of 18. For more details and to reserve your spot today, visit Save $100 by registering before January 25.

About Westwind Getaways, LLC

Westwind Getaways, LLC, specializes in organizing group trips for active adults to take pictures, explore culture, see the sights, participate in outdoor activities and eco adventures. Don’t travel alone! Make new friends on a Westwind Getaways trip! Escorted tours are geared for active adults 50+. Westwind can also create custom journeys, including senior trips, business group tours, ladies-only tours, youth group tours, or family tours. Call today to share your group’s needs and desires, and we can discuss how a Westwind Getaway is perfect for you. For more information about Westwind Getaways, including upcoming trips now taking reservations, visit, call 970-663-7492, or email

Manhard Consulting Welcomes Staff from Accurate EngiSurv

Posted on | December 10, 2013 | No Comments

New division brings expanded services to clients in the region and continues company’s strategic growth nationally


Centennial, Colorado – Manhard Consulting, a civil engineering and surveying firm with offices nationwide, is pleased to announce that the principals and associates of Accurate EngiSurv have joined the Manhard Consulting staff. Accurate EngiSurv will operate as Accurate EngiSurv, a division of Manhard Consulting, with Thomas Cave serving as senior project manager out of Accurate EngiSurv’s current office in Westminster, beginning immediately.

The formation of Accurate EngiSurv, a division of Manhard Consulting, brings clients in the region an enhanced scope of civil engineering and surveying services, including increased access to construction layout, boundary surveys, global position surveys (GPS), and automated computer mapping.

The new Accurate Engisurv division represents a projected 35 percent increase in revenue and personnel for Manhard’s Colorado operations over the next year, and expands the company’s presence north of the Denver metro area. Overall, it represents between four and five percent of Manhard’s 2014 planned revenue and staff on a national basis.

Manhard Consulting opened its first satellite office in Colorado in 1998 in response to a client’s request to follow them as they expanded to the Rocky Mountain region. This decision to grow the firm and expand geographically based on clients’ needs set the groundwork for a pattern of sustained growth across the United States. That national strategy helped the company earn a place on the ENR Top 500 list for six consecutive years, from 2006 to 2011.

“Sometimes the right decision for our clients is also the best decision for our company,” said Michael Unger, P.E., area manager of Manhard Consulting. “Forming this new division with Accurate EngiSurv allows Manhard to better serve our clients along the Front Range and the expanding northern Colorado markets.”

“Manhard’s client-centered approach to project management very closely matched our philosophy,” said Thomas Cave, senior project manager for Accurate EngiSurv. “With our local knowledge and access to Manhard’s national network, we feel we can more adequately respond to the needs of our clients.”

To learn more, please contact Mr. Michael Unger at 303.708.0500 or, or call Manhard Consulting toll-free at 866-MANHARD (866.626.4273).


About Manhard Consulting

Manhard Consulting provides civil engineering, surveying, water resources management, water and wastewater engineering, environmental sciences, construction management, land planning, landscape architecture, supply chain logistics, and other services to over 6,000 public- and private-sector clients from its offices in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada. The firm’s corporate headquarters are in Vernon Hills, Illinois. To learn more about our company and services, visit  or

Using Pinterest as a Writer’s Portfolio and to Document PR Placements

Posted on | December 8, 2013 | No Comments

For some time, I’ve been using Pinterest as a way to catalog my writing and work samples, including media placements for clients. I originally started doing this as an experiment that was part of my effort to learn about Pinterest for myself and my clients. It made perfect sense to me, and I never really thought it was particularly innovative or unusual, but a colleague commented on it and suggested it might make a good blog post.

I had tried, with mixed success, using some of the online portfolio sites and services out there. My concerns with using them included whether they would last and be around when I needed them later, and what they were asking in the way of subscription fees for more than just a basic account.

The process is pretty easy. Simply sign up for a Pinterest account, and set up a board with an appropriate name. I set up one called “Writing Samples,” as well as one called “I Love My Job.” The first one is where I pin all sorts of links and images of my writing, while the second is for pins related to articles I’ve edited for friends and clients, stories I’ve placed for clients and causes I support, etc. 

This approach provides a number of advantages:

-You control what goes on your Pinterest page and boards – and it seems likely that the site will be around for some time, given how popular it is.

-You can post links or images – I suggest posting both, in case a link goes bad at some time.

-Using a scanner, you can scan in and post images of work samples that you did before Pinterest existed.

-Because Pinterest is a visual medium, you can showcase your content the way it appears in its final form, not just as text.

-You can organize your boards and pins in a variety of ways to put similar materials together.

-It’s free, unlike a number of online portfolio services out there.

Once I had drafted this blog entry, I shared it with the colleague who suggested that I write it – he responded, in part:

“With portfolios being so visual, even for writers, Pinterest really does seem like a good tool for it. I have looked at several, and the one I kept coming back to was Scribd. However, the Scribd URLs aren’t always friendly.”

You can find my Pinterest page and the boards I’ve mentioned here at these links:

DataTraks Chooses Rocky Mountain Center for Innovation and Technology as New Home

Posted on | November 7, 2013 | 1 Comment

Loveland-based tech company first to lease from Cumberland & Western

Loveland, CO – DataTraks (, a custom engineering and software solutions company, will move to the Rocky Mountain Center for Innovation and Technology (RMCIT – in Loveland, Colorado. The company will be the first tenant to move into the RMCIT facility, helping to revitalize the currently vacant campus.

As an incentive for DataTraks to move in to the RMCIT campus, the Loveland City Council approved $19,500 to be paid from the Economic Development Incentive Fund to DataTraks. The payment was contingent upon the company signing a five-year lease with Cumberland & Western, and will help DataTraks offset some of the cost of relocating and acquiring equipment. Signing the final lease agreement in early September made DataTraks the first official tenant of the RMCIT facility.

“Since we’re first, they wanted to make sure everything was correct,” stated Jim Bilodeau, DataTraks’ founder and president. Originally located in downtown Loveland, DataTraks makes a significant change moving to RMCIT, almost doubling their facility space. The company will occupy approximately 7,000 square feet of space in the lower D building of the campus. This expansion comes with further plans to develop additional services and capabilities.

“We’ve hired three people this year, but as we continue to grow we’ll eventually be hiring more,” said Bilodeau. “As a company, we’re excited to be the first in the space, and we’ll be more excited to have some cool companies move in next to us.” With plans to be in the new facility within 90 days, Bilodeau cited limited parking and space for growth as motivating factors in moving his organization to the new campus. Many hope DataTraks’ move will provide momentum that leads to additional leases and an atmosphere that benefits other new tenants.

The design for DataTraks’ new space was done by Kenney and Associates Architects ( of Loveland. Tenant finish will be completed by Loveland-based R&L Builders.

About DataTraks

DataTraks was founded in 1998 to help railroad operators make critical decisions regarding the development and maintenance of safe, effective rail systems. The company provides customized engineering and software solutions for companies around world, in the railroad, manufacturing, and mining industries. DataTraks clients benefit from an experienced team of electrical, mechanical and software engineers dedicated to helping those they serve operate safer and more efficiently. Areas of focus include Positive Train Control (PTC), wireless sensor systems, custom software, non-destructive evaluation, and preventative maintenance. For more information, visit, call (970) 461-1140, or email

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